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BILLINGS - Trustees of the Charles M. Bair Family Museum at Martinsdale have agreed to meet later this month with local supporters upset at plans to keep the museum closed for the coming tourist season.

The meeting, planned for May 21 in White Sulphur Springs, will allow for public comment and questioning of the museum's board of trustees, said Peter Marchi, a supporter of reopening the museum.

"The hope is that they'll see the level of support for the museum, and we'll have a lot of questions for them," Marchi said. "It doesn't do us any good to have a mudslinging conference."

The museum, which opened in 1996, drew less than 5,000 visitors last year.

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Charles Bair was a businessman who parlayed a fortune made during the Alaska Gold Rush into successful 20th Century ranching, oil and real estate interests.

Over time, he developed friendships with artists Charles Russell, Joseph Henry Sharp and J.K. Ralston, and some of their works have been among the displays at the museum. Bair also was fond of displaying personal gifts from Crow Chief Plenty Coups, whom he met, and his daughters made buying trips to Europe for many of the antiques at the museum.

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